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Friday, August 4, 2017

News & Updates

Sugar Land Heritage Foundation


As I've mentioned in the past, the Sugar Land Heritage Museum and Visitor Center is under construction. I can't give you a firm date on the opening, but it should be around the first of next year. I'll report more when I hear it. For now, you can read a recent newsletter from the SLHF board by clicking on this link.

Fort Bend County Historical Commission

The Fort Bend County Historical Commission will have its 3rd quarter meeting on Tuesday, August 15th. It's free and open to the public. Our speaker will be a good one. He's Dan Worrall, local historian and author. He will talk about Pleasant Bend and The San Felipe Trail.  Here's a blurb on his presentation:


The story of Upper Buffalo Bayou and the San Felipe Trail as they existed west of Houston in the 19th Century will be the program topic for the Tuesday, Aug. 15 full membership meeting of the Fort Bend County Historical Commission.

The meeting, which is open to the public free of charge, is booked at the Gus George Law Enforcement Academy, 1521 Eugene Heimann Circle in Richmond, beginning at 3 p.m.

Presenter is historical preservationist Dr. Dan Worrall of Fulshear, an active member of the Harris County HC. Worrall, a retired exploration geologist, is currently searching out prospective historical marker sites in west Harris County. He was instrumental in rescuing the 19th-century Morse-Bragg Cemetery, near Post Oak Boulevard in Houston, from loss to development.

Worrall extensively researched what he called "nearly forgotten" rural areas where pioneers settled and lived a century and a half prior to the sprawling westward growth of Houston. In describing the content of his recently published book, "Pleasant Bend," Worrall wrote:

"One such area is that of Upper Buffalo Bayou, extending from downtown Houston to Katy. In this area, European settlement began at Piney Point in 1824, over a decade before Houston was founded. Ox wagons full of cotton traveled across a seemingly endless tallgrass prairie from the Brazos River east to Harrisburg along the San Felipe Trail, built in 1830.

"Also here, Texan families fled eastward during the Runaway Scrape of 1836, immigrant German settlers trekked westward to new farms along the north bank of the bayou in the 1840s, and newly freed African-American families walked east toward Houston from Brazos plantations after Emancipation."

Fort Bend CHC Chairman Chuck Kelly, who helped secure Worrall as program presenter, noted that while Pleasant Bend lay beyond the Fort Bend County line, "its history and that of our county are contemporaneous in time and contiguous in location, and our ancestors were doubtless familiar with the story we will hear from Dr. Worrall in August."

Sons of the Republic of Texas

The Lamar Chapter of the Sons of the Republic of Texas (SRT) has been inactive for several years, although it was the first chapter of the SRT. Fort Bend County resident F. M. O. Fenn was the driving force to start the organization. It's important that we make a determined effort to restart the chapter.

Tom Green of the SRT has told me he found a copy of a letter from John R. Fenn's son, Frances Marion Otis Fenn, a lawyer in Richmond, Texas, who started the SRT in his legal office there in Richmond on April 11, 1893.  As far as we know, F. M. O. Fenn became the first member of the SRT on April 21, 1893, and a copy of his membership certificate is in the San Jacinto Monument archives.

There are no annual fees. The organization's mission is to promote local history, particularly in schools and educational organizations. The only qualification for joining is documented evidence of an ancestor living in the Republic of Texas (1836 - 1845).

Members of neighboring chapters have graciously volunteered to help this effort. If you want to become a member of the Lamar Chapter of the SRT, respond to this this message. An SRT member will contact you.

If you want to join the local chapter of Daughters of the Republic of Texas, please respond to this message, and we'll put you in touch with the chapter in Richmond. They are a very active group.

Old Timer News

I'm very thankful I have no deaths to report, but I do want to mention Steve Shelton. Some of you know he suffered a stroke a few months back.  He's at home in Hillje. I saw his sister Nancy and brother Lee a few days ago, and they said Rose (Steve's wife) and Steve would appreciate your prayers and good wishes. I'm not certain Steve is ready for visitors just yet, but I'll report on his progress when I hear it.

DHS Class of 1977 Celebrates 40th Anniversary

Dulles High School's Class of 1977 is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its graduation from that august institution with a reunion at the Redneck Country Club.  I'm very late with this, but the reunion is tomorrow evening, Saturday, August 5th.  I hope they provide post-reunion photos. Click the image below to view an album of images they've collected. (Thanks to all who have posted them on Facebook.)

DHS Class of '77 mementos & photos.


 An undated photo of The Viking Den posted by the Class of '77. (Thanks for the memory.)

I thought this last item was a hoot. Mark Schumann posted it on Facebook.  It's a Dulles directory from 1976. I don't think we had anything like this in my era. Click the image to view selected pages.


More People of Old Sugar Land

I've stretched the topic a little, but for good reasons. Click the image below to view the photo album. Be sure to turn on the captions option.


The Schumann kitchen on 6th St. back in the early 1970s.
  
I've posted items on the aircraft observation group in Sugar Land during WWII. Jackie James has kept her mother's certificate of appreciation for serving in the group. You can see it below.

I've talked to my mother about this. They had a similar group out at the Humble Camp. She said kids were allowed in the group, and when they were on watch they reported almost everything that flew in the air. She said the operator at the other end was always respectful and polite. He or she never told them to cut out the useless chatter. Who knows if they ever wrote down what  children called in, but they made them feel they were part of the war effort.
 

Certificate awarded to Miriam James for service in Sugar Land's aircraft observation group during WWII.
   
The final item was a surprise. I never knew former council woman, Cyril Hosley's family was connected to the Hoggs and Bayou Bend. Fascinating. Click the image below to read an article on her grandmother's employment with Ima Hogg at Bayou Bend.

Cyril Hosley on the right with her sister Carol and grandmother, Velma Arisman Beasley at Bayou Bend in 1949.

Brazos River & Fort Bend County History

About a month ago, I talked with John Rich, a member of the Harris County Archeological Society about water management on the lower Brazos River. We were looking through an Arcadia book Sharon Wallingford brought to my attention: Lower Brazos River Canals by Lora-Marie Bernard. 

John told me about a series of locks and dams on the river near Navasota. I had no idea there were ever any locks on the Brazos, but John said he discovered them on a canoeing trip he took in 2011 and documented in this article, which includes photos. Great stuff. Click here to read about John's trip.

A colleague on the Fort Bend County Historical Commission, Chris Godbold, writes a regular column on local history for Fort Bend Life Styles and Homes.  Here is a sampling.

Click here to view an article on Fort Bend County during WWI. (We are now in the 100th anniversary of The Great War.)


One final item: my brother found these photos of the Fort Bend County Courthouse by noted photographer Yarnell Richtie. (I wonder who those kids are.)

Fort Bend County Courthouse in 1948 by Yarnell Ritchie. (DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University)

Fort Bend County Courthouse in 1948 by Yarnell Ritchie. (DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Old Imperial Brochures

While researching items for a future exhibit, I found several brochures Imperial Sugar published for different audiences through its corporate history. They span several decades and reflect changes in the company and, implicitly, in the town. I'll post a couple of early ones now and several more in the future.

The first is a short pamphlet on how sugar is made. M. R. Wood was a real renaissance man and eminently qualified to talk authoritatively about sugar technology. (Wood was the chief engineer and chemist at Imperial in its very early days.) Click the image below to view the brochure.
 
Cover of M. R. Wood brochure on Sugar Refining, c. 1920
 
The next brochure was printed in 1925. Note that the author is C. B. Gillespie, who was managing editor of The Houston Chronicle at the time. (My brother found this interesting tidbit about him, which says he was a newspaperman, who worked for W. T. Eldridge in Sugar Land for a few years before returning to the newspaper business and becoming a senior figure at The Houston Chronicle. I guess he did some free-lance work for his old employer and friend.)

Take a quick look at the images because they give an distinct impression of Sugar Land in the mid 1920s, but the business reason behind the brochure is interesting, too. 

The biggest sugar refiner in the US in those days was American Sugar Company, which produced Domino Sugar. The New York-based behemoth was trying to poach Imperial's market in Texas.  Eldridge was defending his company's territory from what appear to be under-handed practices.  American was selling inferior sugar as 'pure cane' sugar -- at a much lower price than Imperial. They seemed intent on driving Imperial out of business - or that's what Eldridge thought. 

Imperial (Eldridge) filed an anti-trust suit against American Sugar and won after a court battle that lasted several years. Eldridge was a real bull dog.

 
C. B. Gillespie's brochure on Texas Pure Cane Sugar, 1925